Plant-based products cheaper than meat in the Netherlands as inflation hits traditional farming
Inflation has raised the price of meat to the point that plant-based alternatives are now a cheaper option for shoppers in the Netherlands.
Farming overheads have soared in recent months, with the price of commodities like fertiliser, animal feed and fuel hitting unprecedented highs.
As a result, many producers and supermarkets have raised the price of goods.
Data compiled on behalf of ProVeg Netherlands has shown that supermarket hikes have not affected meat alternatives as they have meat.
In February 2022, ProVeg and supermarket researcher Questionmark systematically mapped the price differences between plant-based substitutes and their meat counterparts.
At this time, plant-based burgers were on average 56 cents per kilo more expensive than meat-based burgers. Additionally, chicken pieces alternatives and veggie mincemeat were €1.16 and 29 cents more expensive than their animal-derived counterparts respectively.
In the five months since this first study, much has changed because of inflation according to ProVeg. Plant-based burgers are now an average of 78 cents cheaper, while chicken alternatives are 37 cents cheaper and plant-based mincemeat is €1.36 cheaper.
ProVeg said it is important to remember that this data always compares the cheapest animal meat products in a category with the cheapest associated meat alternatives.
However even for more expensive meat alternative products, prices have held fast against the rising cost of meat. ProVeg reported that across the board, two out of three meat substitutes are now cheaper or cost the same as meat.
Pablo Moleman of ProVeg Netherlands said the cost of living crisis was pushing more and more people to shop at so-called discount retailers like Aldi and Lidl.
However the trend of slashing the cost of plant-based products is being felt elsewhere in the country too. Albert Heijn, the Netherlands’ largest supermarket retailer, pledged earlier this year that it would go majority plant-based by 2030 and that alternatives would reach price parity with meat products.
Moleman added that much of the problem with the rising cost of meat comes from it being a very resource-intensive product to produce. Comparatively, the cost of producing many plant-based alternatives is much smaller and not as susceptible to market fluctuations.
“Meat has always been a product that requires an enormous amount of raw materials,” he said. “To make one kilogram of meat, you need up to ten kilograms of grain. Now, in times of scarcity, that takes revenge.
“Due to the large use of raw materials, meat is much more sensitive to disruptions in the world market than meat substitutes. They clearly win out on efficiency, and we now see that reflected in the price.”